Local News

More illnesses linked to in tainted syringes from Angier

Posted March 19, 2010 6:45 p.m. EDT

— More illnesses are being blamed on an Angier facility that knowingly shipped unsterilized syringes to sick people.

At least 288 infections and five deaths are blamed on the dirty syringes, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to track down bacterial infections linked to AM2PAT, officials said during a federal court hearing in Raleigh on Friday.

Two former managers pleaded guilty a year ago to fraud and allowing tainted drugs into the marketplace and are now serving four-year sentences in federal prison.

Federal authorities are still searching for Dushyant Patel, the former president and chief executive of AM2PAT, who has been indicted on 10 federal charges, including fraud and selling adulterated medical devices. Authorities said he might have fled to his native India.

Syringes from AM2PAT were taken off the market in early 2008 and the Angier plant was closed following an outbreak of the bacterial infection Serratia in Colorado, Texas, Illinois and Florida.

AM2PAT sold syringes filled with saline and heparin, a blood thinner. The syringes are used to flush intravenous lines during cancer treatments, kidney dialysis and other procedures.

The drugs weren't produced in Angier but were loaded into syringes there and were shipped to hospitals and clinics nationwide.

Federal authorities said plant operators bypassed measures to ensure product sterility to keep the production line moving quickly. Managers also backdated sterility testing logs to make it appear that the proper procedures had been followed, authorities said.

A federal judge is trying to determine how much victims in the case are owed. Attorneys on both sides are expected to estimate restitution amounts this summer.